Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel has been cleared of ethics charges over per diem travel payments after the House ethics committee ended its investigation into the matter.
The investigation dealt with the way that Engel and five other lawmakers spent federal travel funds while visiting foreign countries. A Wall Street Journal report last year uncovered how some members of Congress used daily cash stipends even though many of their costs were picked up by foreign governments and U.S. embassies, leaving lawmakers with leftover funds. Leftover per-diem money was often used for shopping or to cover spouses’ travel expenses and there are no rules about members of Congress returning leftover travel funds.
The House ethics committee said that the rules governing such per diems were confusing.
According to a report on the matter, “the Committee concludes that there is insufficient evidence to determine with any degree of certainty that any one of the Members were provided an amount of per diem that was not necessary for their respective trips.”
Engel’s office did not return multiple calls for comment. The other lawmakers who were being investigated were Reps. Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.), G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.), Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.), Solomon Ortiz (D., Texas) and Joe Wilson (R., S.C.).